Official says Hamas victory worries Holy Land Christians

The victory of the militant Islamic group Hamas in Palestinian elections has worried the Christian community in the Holy Land, according to a leading Franciscan official.

Catholic News Service rerports that Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, said the Hamas movement's willingness to use terrorism for political ends is one of the most troubling elements.

He said he hops governing would prove to be a moderating experience for Hamas leaders, who will now have to learn the art of compromise.

Fr Pizzaballa spoke at a press conference in Rome on Friday, two days after Hamas swept to a surprising parliamentary victory over the secular Fatah Party, which had controlled the Palestinian Authority.

Fr Pizzaballa said church leaders in the region were generally suspending judgment until they learned details of Hamas' governing program and heard the tone of its statements.

"There are no reasons to be afraid, but there are reasons to be worried," Fr Pizzaballa said.

"Hamas has been an opposition movement, a movement that did not hesitate to use terrorism, kamikazes, for its political ends," he said. That is causing anxiety for Christians and for all moderate Palestinians, he said.

At the same time, he said, "the hard and pure language of opposition has to come to terms with the reality of governing, which necessarily means compromise. So we'll have to wait and see."

"The Islamic mold of Hamas certainly prompts many questions among Christians. Above all in the cities where Christians are a small minority, people are asking, 'What will become of us? What will they do?'" he said.

It is possible, he said, that the situation will become more difficult for Christians, not so much on account of the government's programs but because of the activities of small groups at the local level.

"But we shouldn't overdramatise the situation. Reactions are always exaggerated at first, but I think things will settle down," he said.

Franciscan official says Hamas victory worries Holy Land Christians (Catholic News Service 27/1/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

Hamas Victory Stirs Franciscan's Concern (Zenit 27/1/06)
For Israel, it's time to negotiate peace with Hamas (AsiaNews.it 26/1/06)
Christians anxious over Hamas victory (AsiaNews.it 26/1/06)
Christian is parliamentary candidate for Islamic group Hamas (Ecumenical News International 24/1/06)

30 Jan 2006